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Outdoors » Hiking & Camping » What to Pack

This is a packing list for a backpacking trip of 2-3 nights. For a longer trip, you should not need much else, except maybe some additional clothing. You may also not need some of the gear in warm environments. This list may be a little overkill, but I wanted to list everything that came to mind since I know there are some novice hikers that come to this site for advice.

Clothing should not be cotton if possible. You can probably get away with underwear, but the less cotton the better. Cotton T-shirts suck after they are covered with dirt and sweat. Sweatshirts are also crappy.

Group Gear

  • [   ] Tent, rain fly, steaks, poles

  • [   ] Tent repair kit

  • [   ] Water filter

  • [   ] Stove

  • [   ] Cook gear

  • [   ] Rope

  • [   ] GPS w/ extra batteries

  • [   ] Compass

  • [   ] Field guide for those unexpected events

  • [   ] Topo maps

  • [   ] Trowel

  • [   ] Waterproof matches & lighter

  • [   ] Fire starter (dryer lint is awesome)

  • [   ] Toilet paper

Base Clothing/Gear

  • [   ] 2 pair underwear (non-cotton are preferable)

  • [   ] 1-2 pair of pants w/ zip-off shorts

  • [   ] 2 short sleeve, light weight shirts

  • [   ] Rain gear - top and bottom (a poncho is a cheap alternative)

  • [   ] Sun glasses

  • [   ] Boots

  • [   ] 2-3 pair wool socks

  • [   ] 2-3 pair liner socks

  • [   ] Sandals or tennis shoes for camp

  • [   ] Hat (anything with a brim)

Cool-Weather Clothing

  • [   ] 1-2 pair light or medium weight long-sleeve base layer

  • [   ] Fleece

  • [   ] Gloves (2-3 pairs for snow, or 1 pair with 2-3 pairs of liners)

  • [   ] Skullcap

  • [   ] Water-proof pants or snow-pants

Additional (optional) Clothing

  • [   ] Gaiters (necessary in some cold-weather environments)

  • [   ] Biking gloves - good for trekking poles and climbing on things

  • [   ] Trekking poles

Hygiene and Misc

  • [   ] Toothbrush

  • [   ] Toothpaste

  • [   ] Sunscreen

  • [   ] Lip balm

  • [   ] Insect repellant (100% Deet)

Personal Gear

  • [   ] Sleeping bag

  • [   ] Backpack

  • [   ] Backpack rain cover (a poncho can do the trick too)

  • [   ] Knife

  • [   ] Nalgene Bottle(s) and/or hydration bag - enough to hold ~100oz

  • [   ] Cup

  • [   ] Spork

  • [   ] Camera

  • [   ] Paper & pencil

  • [   ] Head lamp w/ extra batteries (or flashlight)

  • [   ] Camping towel

First Aid Gear

  • [   ] Medical tape

  • [   ] Moleskin

  • [   ] Duct Tape

  • [   ] Ibuprofen

  • [   ] Tylenol

  • [   ] Imodium

  • [   ] Band-Aids

  • [   ] Ace bandage

  • [   ] Gauze roll

  • [   ] Benadryl (a small amount)

  • [   ] Wound dressing

  • [   ] Triple antibiotic ointment

  • [   ] Iodine wipes

  • [   ] Antibacterial wipes

  • [   ] Small first-aid book

  • [   ] Snake bite kit

  • [   ] Knife

  • [   ] Tweezers

  • [   ] Safety pins

Pet Gear

I am a huge advocate of brining your dog with you on the trail as long as they are well behaved, listed to their owner, and are in shape for the length of your hike. If you're not sure about your dog's fitness level, start off small and then work up to longer hikes. Make sure that all of your dog's vaccinations and medications are current, including rabies, giardiasis, bordatella, and heartworm. If you're hiking in an area with Lyme disease, ask your vet about vaccinations.

The first rule of taking dogs into wild or natural places is to respect the rules. Remember: It's not a right for your dog to be in the wilderness, it's a privilege. Don't jeopardize that privilege for yourself and others by ignoring prohibitions on dogs or leash restrictions. Always make sure you know the rules for the area you want to hike in. Dogs are not permitted on National Park or National Monument trails. National Forests may allow dogs on their trails, but there are exceptions, so check first. Dogs usually are allowed on wilderness area trails but, again, check to be sure.

Staying hydrated is just as important for your dog as it is for you. In fact, because their body temperature is higher to begin with and they typically hike in a full fur coat, dogs are often quicker to overheat than people. Heat exhaustion and stroke can be fatal. It's up to you to bring a supply of clean water (drinking from ponds and streams isn't any better for your dog than it is for you) and to make sure that your dog drinks often. Some people teach their dogs to drink from a squirt bottle. Others bring along a collapsible water dish. If you notice your dog running from shady spot to shady spot, panting excessively or becoming red in the gums, stop and cool him down. Gently pouring water on the stomach and groin area is a good technique. And don't forget that your dog needs to drink on cold days, too.

Dogs can carry their own weight on a hike, or at least part of it. A healthy dog ought to be able to carry up to 1/3 of his weight in a special dog pack. Start with an empty pack full off shredded newspaper, though, to acclimate the dog to the pack before you gradually start adding weight on successive hikes. And don't put a pack on a dog on a hot, sunny day if there's a chance it will cause him to overheat faster.

It shouldn't need to be said, but it's essential to pack out dog droppings rather than leaving them on the trail or even by the side of the trail. Dog waste is not the same as that other animals, even that of coyotes or wolves. It's dangerous to the environment, especially near water sources, and it makes a bad impression on other hikers - not to mention their boots.

Your dog can be one of your best hiking companions. They force you to keep a brisk pace, provide you with a willing partner in your endeavor, and also cause you to be more attentive to the weather and trail conditions. So keep reading this checklist, then get out there with Fido and have a great trip!

  • [   ] Backpack (make sure s/he is already comfortable wearing one)

  • [   ] Water bowl & water. I can't stress this one enough. Dogs get dehydrated on car rides, much less hiking, so get used to carrying water and a collapsible bowl with you at all times.

  • [   ] Plenty of food and trail treats. I normally feed Tabor 3 cups of dry food a day when we are at home, but when we hike he gets 3 cups in the morning and 3 cups at night. Put the food in a Ziploc bag so if s/he jumps in a lake or river it will stay dry

  • [   ] First aid kit

  • [   ] Tick removal kit

  • [   ] Bear bell (attach to backpack)

  • [   ] Dog booties (if the trail is going to go over jagged rocks)

  • [   ] Leash

  • [   ] ID tags, microchips, and picture identification

  • [   ] Compact roll of plastic bags and trowel

Food and Such

In general, the average person requires ~2 lbs of food per day. Food should all be repacked (except for freeze-dried dinners), and dehydrated, which will reduce size and garbage. The Backcountry Kitchen is a great resource for ideas on what you can prepare for meals.

The meals listed below are just some options.

  • [   ] Vitamins (this is optional for shorter trips, necessary for longer)

  • [   ] 2 garbage bags

  • [   ] Ziploc bags to contain all meals

  • [   ] 4 extra large Ziploc's

  • [   ] 4 extra small Ziploc's

  • [   ] Bear bag

Cooking vs. "Ready to Eat" Meals

In addition to your "ready to eat" snacks, most people prefer 2-3 core meals on the trail. Given that cooking requires fuel and stove, there's a temptation to leave the stove behind and bring entire meals that are ready to eat. If that really works for you, great, but if you're doing it solely to save weight, you're probably pursuing false economy. Given the viability of such simple stoves as the JetBoil, the Pocket Rocket and others, the additional water weight of those no-cook meals is likely to far outweigh a lean cooking system, particularly on longer trips. Plus there really is something nice about a hot meal on a cold night/morning.

  • Coffee

  • Pop-Tarts

  • Instant oatmeal

  • Granola

  • Pita bread

  • Peanut butter and jelly

  • Sausage (good to freeze it before you go) - will last a day or two

  • Macaroni & cheese

  • Instant rice

  • Instant soups

  • Mountain House freeze-dried foods

  • Granola bars

  • Clif Bars

  • Pop-Tarts

  • Trail mix